Buying A Car Online: It May Be Easier Than You Think

Whether you're a first-time car owner or thinking of getting a second car - to an overzealous showroom salesman, it doesn't really matter - we all know...they're not cheap!

But, most buyers are willing to do their homework by comparison shopping to ensure that they get a reliable, trouble free, and roadworthy car.

And if you can't afford a new car...well...then you're looking at perhaps coming home with a vehicle that barely makes a passing grade.

But, then again - there's always ebay - you could take your chances with online auctions, as nearly newlywed blogger Amber posts the biggest impulse buy, ever:

I have never had a normal car buying experience, and I'm beginning to think I never will. My first car was the car my parents bought new when my brother was in utero; I got it eleven years later. My second car was given to me as a hand-me-down by my grandparents. My third was a last minute, quickly bought used car from a friend for $3000. I bought it before I looked at it, but it turned out to be ok. My fourth car was Patrick's old car; he gave it to me because he got a new one, and my old one was falling apart. This one, number five was an impulse buy. WE IMPULSE BOUGHT A CAR. Who does that?

Apparently, a lot more people than Amber may think and they're blogging all about their gosh-darned good luck doing it, too.

But, buying a car on the internet - like, the shipping charges alone are probably out of this world - no way!?!

Way - if you do it the way Frugal Underground did - with MotorMapUSA:

In the case of, they have combined the features of eBay Motors (buying and selling vehicles via online auction) with those of Google Maps (locating things by proximity). By combining these sites, you end up with a map of vehicles listed on eBay that are near your location.

Sounds good, yeah...but, is it sound advice and is know...worth it?

Sarah gave it a shot and not only thought this new service makes it easier to find a bargain on a used car, she found herself a truck, too:

Could we have gotten a better deal by scouring the local papers and looking at a bunch of vehicles over the course of several months? I’m sure we could have. But this was definitely a case of a “convenient bargain.� The shopping process took a grand total of four hours, most of them passive, and we got a good vehicle for less than it is worth.
Like everything else, you have to weigh your priorities: are you more interested in spending the time to save the money? Or spending the money to save the time? We felt like this was a great compromise between the two, and I’ll be recommending the service to anyone who’s car shopping.

Ah, yes - perhaps the Internet does offer real car-buying bargains - but, as (an intermediary of automotive information mentioned by BlogHer Contributing Editor, Suzanne) warns - proceed with caution; con artists are trying to separate you from your money:

As online shopping increases (at least 30 percent of Americans now shop the Internet) so do cyber crimes. Some $68 million was lost to Internet fraud in 2004, with the average individual loss placed at $216 per person. As online fraud increases, so do measures to prevent it. An excellent resource is, which posts information about different scams and how to avoid becoming a victim. Auction sites such as eBay Motors also have information warning about phony car-buying scams.

The article continues to report that buyers aren't the only ones at risk, either - online car sellers best beware as well:

Most online car transactions go through without a hitch. However, it pays to have a healthy measure of suspicion, particularly if anything about the deal makes you intuitively feel uneasy. Remember, the crooks are playing a numbers game, sending out millions of e-mails in hopes that someone bites. If you question them even a little bit, they will usually disappear back into the ether of cyberspace.

Either way, it's a crap shoot.

Tips from bloggers and shopping services like can certainly help make car buying online a little easier - unless you're bidding with that woman in Germany, who's auctioning her red sports car including...herself:

Leila said she would meet with interested bidders but would need to see the bidder's passport and proof of capital. No bids have been made yet in the auction which ends in a week.

Then all bets are off and only the bravest need apply (or, in this case - bid)...Godspeed, Leila!

Contributing Editor Liz Thompson also writes for The Imperfect Parent.


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